Green Completions For Shale Gas Come To Fore As Methane Emissions Reduction Tool

November 2011, Vol. 238 No. 11

Stephen Barlas

“Green completions.” That appears to be a new watchword growing out of the shale gas boom. The issue of green completions came up Oct. 4 when members of President Obama’s shale gas subcommittee went before the Senate Energy Committee.

Kathleen McGinty, a member of the DOE shale gas subcommittee, raised the issue of green completions as an example of a possible solution to objectionable methane emissions. McGinty is Senior Vice President of Weston Solutions and chaired the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Clinton.

In green completions, gas and hydrocarbon liquids are physically separated from other fluids and delivered directly into equipment that holds or transports the hydrocarbons for productive use. There is no venting or flaring. This practice then links upstream activities with mid and downstream efforts. But McGinty added a more aggressive move to green completions “will require acceleration of effort in other areas to permit and build the needed gathering and distribution infrastructure.”

In late August the EPA, as part of a larger oil and gas industry rulemaking, proposed operational standards for completions of hydraulically fractured gas wells. Non-exploratory and non-delineation wells would require reduced emission completion (REC) – another term for green completion – in combination with pit-flaring of gas not suitable for entering the gathering line.

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